When: Wed., Dec. 28, 9:30 p.m. 2011
It's hard enough to establish just one durable holiday tradition (at least if you define a "tradition" as something other people observe with you), but these days Chicago drummer Hamid Drake has two of them. His winter solstice series with fellow percussionist Michael Zerang has been an institution for years—their 22nd annual predawn concerts started on Wednesday and continue through Friday morning at Links Hall—and now his reunions with the DKV Trio are approaching that status. Considering how infrequently Drake is in town (he has heavy-duty collaborators all over the world and is in constant demand abroad), these more or less yearly gigs tend to happen when he's home for the holidays—the group's reedist, Ken Vandermark, is on the road almost as much, so at any other time of year it'd take a miracle to get the two of them in the same room. In the 90s and early aughts this trio (the K stands for bassist Kent Kessler) was the city's most explosive and soulful improvising group, with each member deeply connected to the others—its extended pieces morphed from bar-walking funk to tender balladry to pure roiling energy music so organically that the shifts seemed scripted. What's truly astonishing is that even though DKV hasn't played together regularly in about eight years—its most recent release came out nearly a decade ago—at its low-key reunions Drake, Kessler, and Vandermark lock in together from the very first note. —Peter Margasak With DJ sets by the Space Invading Steppers and the Fort Wellington Soundsystem.